The Importance of Indoor Air Quality & How it can be Improved

June - 2019

We are exposed to several unavoidable risks every day just by being alive. There are also risks present in our day-to-day lives that are avoidable, and poor indoor air quality is one of them. Air pollution is known to influence health issues but many people are unaware this includes both indoor and outdoor air. Air is one of the only things we have in common with every person in the world. If we are alive, we are breathing, so it is important we take action to consume quality air. The quality of the air outdoors is mostly out of our control but indoor air quality is not. Having the option to measure and regulate the indoor air quality of a home is critical for the health and safety of residents.

Why is clean air important & what symptoms are linked to poor air quality?

According to the EPA, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors where pollutants can be two to five times more concentrated than those outdoors. Air pollutants can directly impact one’s health which can lead to consequences immediately or years later. Immediate effects of poor indoor air quality are often treatable and short-term. Symptoms from the immediate effects of air pollution can resemble common viruses, including headaches, coughing and sinus congestion, therefore air quality is often overlooked as being the cause. Delayed effects from air pollution can be severe and even fatal, especially to those who are most sensitive, including the elderly, children and those with weakened immune systems. Delayed effects often have no signs associated with them until it is too late making this is a huge reason to ensure good air quality in a home.

What are the causes of indoor air pollution?

Often, homeowners are not aware of the presence of pollutants because they can be nearly impossible to identify with the senses. Hazardous pollutants contributing to poor indoor air quality can come from various sources, including formaldehyde, new furniture, paint on the walls, poor insulation, cleaning products and lead. Clean air is important because although it is known how harmful pollutants can be, it is unknown how and when a person will react or what the consequences will be.

What is considered poor air quality?

The air quality index (AQI) shows the status of major air pollutants, with a higher number meaning more dangerous air pollution. This index ranges from 0-500 and any pollutant above 300 indicates hazardous air quality. The indoor air quality standard from the EPA is at 100 with over 100 being unhealthy. This standard is set to protect public health.

What variables make up indoor air quality?

Unnatural, dangerous chemicals and carcinogens are oftentimes found throughout a house. Simple solutions like keeping up with cleaning and using safe paint and cleaning products are good ways to maintain indoor air quality. Air purifies are beneficial for moisture control but can only do so much. Increasing ventilation in a house is an easy way to lower the accumulation of hazardous pollutants but it will also increase energy costs. Indoor air quality problems are often deeply rooted and require a professional to identify and mediate. A comprehensive home energy audit can measure the amount of fresh air coming into your home and compare it with health and safety standard recommendations for good indoor air quality. Our home energy audits will also identify areas where your home could be drawing in dust and allergens that are affecting your air quality and recommend solutions to seal the area.

How can I improve air quality in my home?

More often than not, poorly installed or old insulation could be releasing flame retardants and chemicals with high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are chemicals that are carbon-based and can turn into gases or vapors with ease, like formaldehyde. One of the most useful ways to improve the indoor air quality of a home is to replace the insulation. Spray foam is a popular form of insulation but if it is not installed properly or the mixture of chemicals is not at an accurate ratio, the curing process can be hindered exposing the area to a number of potential threats. Some threats could be off-gassing problems or the release of toxins that will pollute the air and are unsafe to consume. With studies and technological advances throughout the years, the insulation industry is more knowledgeable about the effects of chemicals and has developed new standards for safety. If the insulation in a home is old, it could contain elements of installation techniques or chemicals that are no longer at an acceptable standard. Having a professional contractor install new insulation can dramatically increase the indoor air quality in a home making it safer for occupants to live in and avoid the risk of health concerns.

The relationship between energy efficiency and insulation is another factor in improving indoor air quality. When a house is properly insulated it will decrease energy usage which will decrease the pollutants a house is producing. By using insulation like spray foam in the attic or roof, the risks of toxins, like mold, developing is avoided. A common issue some have with airtight insulation is the ability for indoor pollutants to be trapped in the house. Although this could be a cause for concern, when you get a home energy audit done with Ecotelligent Homes, we will be able to establish any ventilation needs to allow for maximum energy efficiency while maintaining high indoor air quality.

When making home improvements to better the indoor air quality, you should use products that are GreenGuard Gold Certified. This certification is visibly labeled on products and indicates that the product produces such low levels of VOCs that it is safe for environments where sensitive individuals inhabit, like hospitals and schools. This certification means that products are safe for those who are most vulnerable to the effects of low indoor air quality making it safe to assume the product will promote good indoor air quality. Since insulation can play such a huge role in indoor air quality, we feel it is important to offer safe products that even the most defenseless clients could benefit from. At Ecotelligent Homes, our spray foam insulation is GreenGuard Gold Certified because we know the importance of good indoor air quality and want to provide the best options for our client’s homes. Installing GreenGuard Gold Certified spray foam insulation, as well as other energy efficiency improvements, can also help homes reduce emission from energy generation, thus helping improve the outdoor air quality too. 

Knowing that indoor air quality can be incredibly detrimental, it is critical to assess the current state of your home. Making strides towards better indoor air quality shows you care about the health and safety of those in your home. Even if you do not think it would be possible for your home to have poor indoor air quality, getting an energy audit would put your mind at ease. Working with a professional company that offers GreenGuard Gold Certified products will allow you to take control and avoid the risks associated with poor indoor air quality so you can breathe happily.

Interested in learning more about improving the indoor air quality of your home? Contact Ecotelligent Homes today to learn what steps you need to take to ensure healthy indoor air quality.

 

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